A Perfect Day At The Beach
Commitmentnow's Editor Paula Davis Shares Her Memories of Perfect Days at the Beach
What is your perfect day at the beach? Everyone has their own version. For some, it is a comfortable beach chair, a great book, an icy drink, and the pure bliss of sitting/reading/being by the ocean.
For others, it is a radio playing music, lots of friends, a cooler and nowhere to be and nothing to do.
Some like to play volleyball. Others like to walk. Some make it a meditative time to enjoy the vast beauty of the ocean. There are sun-worshippers and those who stay hidden under the umbrella. Some want quiet, alone time. Others want noise, fun and frolic.
I have my own versions of a perfect day at the beach. Here are a few of them.
• My daughter was in first grade, my son was 3 and it was one of those summers that didn’t come easy. I had moved to a small town I didn’t like and I was feeling antsy and frustrated. The town was far from everything and everyone I was used to. It was a bad move, but one I couldn’t escape easily. That particular summer morning had gone badly. I was hot. I wanted to go to the beach. I was feeling sad that, unlike my childhood, there would be no summer vacations at the beach this summer. In fact, since my husband and I had gotten married and had children, we never once went on a beach vacation, and for a girl who grew up with two to three weeks at her favorite beach each summer, this was getting frustrating. So that morning, I moped around the kitchen with one thought on my mind: I wanted to go to the beach. Now. Today. This minute. My beach—the only beach I have ever truly loved. Mind you, my husband, who long ago decided he hated the beach, was not in the mood to go. “Its hot,” he stated and I shot back: “so you want to stay in the house all day.” A long Saturday ahead of me, two little kids, a house with an air conditioner and no plans. Why stay home when the beach was an hour away? I could not be stopped. We are going, I insisted. No we are not, he argued. He wanted to spend the day at the mall. Six hours at the mall with a six year old and a three year old? Ah, hello… I persisted, and somehow, through all the bickering, we managed to pack a cooler, grab some towels and get in the car towards the beach.
The ride wasn’t pretty.
We fought the whole way. My husband was definitely not in the mood to sit in the sun all day—and he let it be known. By the time I arrived at the beach, I was worn out. Should I have stayed home? The walk to the beach from the giant parking lot was long, hot and hard. I was out of shape and not used to lugging so much stuff through the heat.
Then, suddenly, we stepped out on to the sand and there it was—the ocean. Everything that I went through that day, that winter, and that whole year, disappeared before my eyes… the fighting, the frustration, the difficulties of living in a town I didn’t like. I was at the ocean and I was free. It was perfect.
I will never forget how relieved and at peace I felt on that day when my eyes finally looked upon the sea. That moment is frozen in time for me, because it amazed me that all the weariness I felt instantly dissolved the moment I looked out upon the beach. My journey had been long, but oh so worth it.
My husband ended up enjoying our time at the beach. We met some nice people who shared food and drinks with us and we all left feeling relaxed and relieved.
• It was the beginning of a new beginning. My son had graduated from kindergarten and my daughter from third grade. The summer before, we began spending one week a year at my favorite beach, just as I did as a child. This particularly July day, the 11th on a Wednesday to be exact, was a perfect summer day..the breeze, the sun, the ocean temperature, so warm for new England that tiny fishes swam around. The weather was glorious, but what it made a perfect day was the family and friends who visited me. The morning started when one of my best friends Leah arrived with her then boyfriend (now husband). Next, came my beloved cousin Susan and her granddaughter Skylar. Then some of my daughter’s friends arrived, with their mother who is also a good friend. As the day progressed, more friends arrived, and at a certain point in the day, we were all on the beach together, the sun, breeze and ocean in perfect harmony. I sat and watched my children playing joyfully with friends and cousins. This moment had been a long time coming in my adult life, because my childhood memories of the beach were filled with family and friends, but getting back to that feeling sometimes seemed impossible.
It had been a long time coming that in my adult life, so many people I loved were at the beach at once. My daughter and son were playing happily, and my heart filled up. How many years had I longed for a moment like this? Then, all of a sudden, someone said, “Lydia’s here” and it was my mother’s best friend since high school walking towards us, and for a moment, everything felt that it was as it should be. I looked up at the sky and took in a huge breath, a breath that maybe had been 25 years in coming. I could breath again! Life was good. Friends, family, we were all together again at the beach. I can still see myself looking up at the sky, breathing deeper than I had breathed in years. A perfect beach day.
• I had been trying to get pregnant for over a year, and I had an important treatment coming up. It was a busy time at work, but I made the decision to take a week off (not to my boss liking, but I had to keep things in perspective). My parents had rented a house at the beach for a few weeks and it would give me a chance to rest and de-stress. I spent the week with my parents and grandmother, reading, talking, sitting on the beach with my Dad late into the day. I ate lots of plums and swam in the ocean like I had not swam in years. I let myself relax and believe. But then a few weeks later, it was time for the pregnancy test. I expected to hear no. I didn’t want to even know the results. Then one night, I am sitting in the kitchen of the beach cottage and my husband walks in:
“Did you get the message?” he said blankly.
“No” I quip.
I didn’t want to hear it.
“You’re pregnant” and there at the beach I always loved, I heard the news I had been long waiting for.
A perfect beach day.
There are a million other memories I could share of my perfect days at the beach. Times with my Grandpa Alfred and Grandma Maria, my cousins Sheri and Tina, visits from my Aunt Betty, Uncle Charlie, Aunt Angie. cousins Elena and Nick. There was the time when I was about 15 and my cousin Tina and I were walking around the center—a place of fried dough, pizza and rides sometime in 1979. And some lunatic threw a bottle to the ground. It smashed in a million piece. We were scared…a bit, and maybe I was even a little thrilled to be out at night, just me and my cousin with my grandfather, neon lights everywhere, amidst the excitement. We were scared, but we bond together.
• Two years ago, vacation began and we were worn out. A tough school year. Friendship troubles. Lots of confusion. My husband had a toe amputated. Tough, tough year. But somehow, one Sunday, the water was as warm as, well, so warm I rarely remember it being that warm. I decided to show my daughter that despite what we had gone through that year, we could still enjoy ourselves. So, I took her hand and we went into the ocean and what happened was pure bliss: three hours of jumping the waves, she and I, releasing all our tension and sadness over the year’s events. By the end of the day, we were smiling and laughing. The ocean did the trick again.
Or how about the time my son first learned to jump the waves? He and I, just the two of us, jumping the waves over and over.
My heart tumbled in love.
A perfect day at the beach. Once again.